Amazon launches shopping machine masquerading as a phone

“Amazon’s Fire Phone is here: CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the company’s first smartphone at an event today in Seattle,” Dan Frommer writes for Quartz. “Details are still rolling in, but Bezos has already made one thing clear: This is a shopping device.

“The most interesting feature so far is called Firefly: An image recognition app that can supposedly detect and identify more than 100 million items, ranging from physical products on sale at Amazon—Bezos demonstrated the feature with a Nutella jar, among other products—to songs and phone numbers,” Frommer writes. “The phone has a dedicated Firefly button on its side, meaning that the feature—and your credit card—is always only a tap away.”

MacDailyNews Take: When the most interesting feature is one that Apple’s iPhone has had for quite some time, you’ve got one very uninteresting device.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That Bezos feels he needs to dangle a free year of Amazon Prime (a US$99 value!!!) in order to rope in Misfire Phone™ suckers is a sign of desperation from the outset.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Chris Renaldi” and “Dude” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Amazon Fire Phone’s Firefly feature: Apple’s iPhone already has it – June 18, 2014
Amazon shows ‘Fire Phone’ with 4.7-inch 3-D display to court mobile shoppers – June 18, 2014
Analyst: Amazon smartphone no threat to Apple’s iPhone, but Android phone makers beware – June 17, 2014


    1. It probably has some “sense”… 🙂 If you show FireFly an iPad, it probably shows the prospective customer a Kindle Fire. If you show it a book published by Hachette Book Group, it probably shows an “alternative” book from a publisher that’s under Amazon’s thumb.

  1. I think it’s an interesting device. It’s got chops, but is it 4 years too late for any sort of domination, is the question. Obviously Amazon is building an ecosystem. They’ll fuel it’s growth with profits from their online business, essentially feeding it life support until it finally catches a spark. “We’re number two!” is their goal. I’ll bet they do it, frankly. No one will eclipse Apple’s number one status on phones/ipads. They’re Coke and always will be. But if you’re antiApple, what non-iOS device would you prefer? Only Amazon has the ecosystem. Only Amazon has the halo. This is a big, good bet. Over the course of 2-3 years I bet it pays off.

    1. Did you say “Cool Technology”?

      Apple engineers probably laughing at it since (with a little intelligence) you can accomplish the same task simply by using the already built in 3 axis gyro. The FOUR extra camera’s are just a bit overkill if you ask me. How do you think Apple does their 3D maps feature and 3D background wallpaper feature. Certainly NOT by using 4 camera’s. To boot, the gyro also works in dark places and don’t need no silly infra redding either!

        1. Too bad the NASA story’s not true:

          – What’s now known as the Fisher Space Pen (nitrogen-presurrized ink cartridge) was developed by Paul Fisher, and only later bought by NASA after a couple years of testing. It first flew on the Apollo 7 mission.

          Developing the pen did run to about a million dollars, but it was Fisher’s money, not the tax payer’s.

          – The Russians did use pencils, the only problem being that pencil wood and graphite bits tend to drift around in zero G, getting into electrical equipment, small moving parts, up your nose, in your ears … Oh, and the Americans started out using pencils, which is how they knew what problems came in their train, and were looking for something better.

          Turns out that Fisher is still in business, and depending on the version, and whether or not it’s a special commemorative model, you can spend up to $600 on a real Space Pen.

  2. To be fair, iOS 8 is arriving with a bunch of features that Android has been having for years, should we then discount it as rubbish??

    My point is judge the whole phone with all the features it comes with. There is alot of pluses to this phone(e.g a VERY ATTRACTIVE Amazon ecosystem) it also has its pitfalls (price?). If you are an ultimate shopper this might be the very best phone for you.

    1. To be fair, Apple could have thrown all the features into iOS in its first year, too, if Apple’s goal was simply more bullet points on spec lists.

      The difference is, going wide and shallow right away, or developing foundations and depth first, so the OS has some real legs for the future.

      Also, it’s a little disingenuous to say “Android” has had all these feature for years, when 1) large segments of the Android user base are on years old versions of the OS, with little or no prospect of an upgrade or chance to use all the features; and 2) the features they *could-* use, they don’t, because they are pretty unusable and poorly implemented…

      This is evidenced by the fact that iOS users, in survey after survey, accomplish far more simple, everyday tasks such as surfing, online purchasing, creating and uploading photos and videos to sites like Flikr and YouTube, etc. and this is absolute use as aggregated across ALL the minority of iOS users compared to The WHOLE, majority Android population, not one average user compared to one average user.

      1. …and 3) Developers can implement features on iOS much more easily and effectively through the great APIs and tools that Apple delivers.

        As evidenced by: many developers’ iOS-first or -only strategy; that the iOS apps are so much more interesting, profitable, appealing, useable and applicable to more of the userbase; and better apps can be produced by smaller development teams with a smaller budget.

        1. I agree rushing things in for the sake of it or to claim we were first is entirely why Android is such a mess. Once you bolt something on its very difficult to implement it properly later. Even Apple has to make big underlying changes every 5 years of so to streamline everything. Equally claiming devices can do something and then finding it doesn’t really do it in a efficient, convenient, reliable and usable way (for example Samsung touch) is really just a con.

  3. So none of you have seen or held one but you are expert about it. It probably is crap, but we could wait until it is in fact available. Or is that too much to hope for?

    1. Agreed.

      The Apple fanboy knee-jerk overreaction is not smart.

      I will definitely check it out. The 3D icons intrigue me, but it may end up becoming another seasick gimmick.

      Time will tell …

    2. The “knee jerk” reaction is one of not accepting phones designed by advertising (Google) or sales (Amazon) companies. The very idea is folly. The platforms are undesirable and insecure simply because they exist to serve industry, not consumer interests.

  4. So consumers have a choice.

    iPhone: a computer in your pocket (64 bit if you get the latest model)

    Android: Google’s data collector for advertisers

    Fire: Amazon’s shopping cart

    It’s an easy choice if you have half a brain.

  5. So, guy walks into a [brick & mortar] store, takes out his Amazon phone, scans the barcode of the object of his desire, immediately buys it on Amazon and walks out of the store. So, store owner, seeing this transaction asks shopper to please, leave the phone somewhere because this is a store not a showroom for Amazon. But this pisses off the customer: “WTF, you want me to leave my phone outside?! I’m never coming in here again.” Store owner loses, Jeff Bezos wins.

    Apple builds iBeacon so that customer coming into the store sees lots of valuable information on his phone about the object of his desire. Instantly smitten, customer, perhaps using his iPhone, purchases item from store owner. Customer is happy. Owner is happy. Jeff Bezos is pissed.

    I think the second model is better.

    1. Now I realise what this reminded me of: a robber casing the joint.

      It also seems like a Jeff Bezos grand dodge: using other vendors’ brick & mortar stores as his extended showrooms, for which he pays not a penny to stock and maintain.

      What’s more, he builds a database of popular items and learns to stock them, and at what levels, in which areas. After enough years of this, he successfully undercuts most retailers, puts them out of business, and then—jacks up prices. Payoff time! Analysts have seen this coming for years.

      His business model though depends on consumers behaving rationally—i.e. maximising their economic utility, which translates to seeking lowest price. I think that this simplistic assumption is flawed.

      1. Brilliant analysis of Bezos business model.

        I only disagree on one point. Paying the lowest price for stuff is desirable in this failed economy.

        In the last year alone — my city, county, state gasoline tax and toll road fees ALL WENT UP.

        I count that as four PAY CUTS.

        Oh, and the teacher’s union is on strike again, so most likely another pay cut is coming …

  6. I have been using the Amazon App on my iPhones for YEARS…..

    It has saved me THOUSANDS of dollars over the years. Many stores such as Frys, BestBuy, and other will attempt to match legit online retailers prices or get close to them giving you that purchase gratification immediately…..!

    Bloomberg is reporting this as a brick and mortar destroying device as a showrooming device………..

    1. I have to agree. I have saved thousands of dollars over the years buying through Amazon. I know this because I am one of those obsessive price-comparison shoppers. I do not stop with Amazon’s prices, though, and invest the time to investigate other vendors. But many shoppers have less patience and succumb to the temptation of one-click ordering whilst lingering at

      1. The patient price comparison shoppers, like yourself, will also succumb to the convience being able to shop 24/7 from the comfort of your couch or beach chair.

        Try to avoid stores whenever possible. Many other things in life worth my time rather than hiking in box stores or tiny shops.

        1. That idea of Amazon’s, to use drones for deliveries, seems very attractive as I lounge at the beach and realise I am out of sun block. “Siri, order Epicuren SPF 45, prime account.” “On the way, Hannah.” God, that sounds so decadent.

        2. Those cavernous box stores give me the willies, but when in a new town I enjoy grazing the boutiques and antique stores, and always give the local bookshop a whirl. All of them are overjoyed to ship your purchases.

          In this way I support small businesses. But Amazon does not yet appear so threatening as Google, so I shall not join a crusade against it. As always, I reserve the right to change my mind 🙂

          1. Agree with exploring cool places in far flung new towns, whether on holiday or free time at a work conference.

            Our only difference is I ferret out the spirit trade and groaning boards over bonded pages, oil lamps and antique clothes.

            All good. :~)

          2. Amazon has since it’s inception avoided paying sales taxes, a huge built in advantage over it’s brick and mortar competitors. Only after many states began changing their laws did Amazon then agree to begin paying sales taxes, but, pitted state against state on where he builds new warehouses, exacting years and sometimes decades of tax breaks, again, placing him at a huge competitive advantage compared to the brick and mortar competitors.

            A sad state of affairs where government policy and wall street granting significant premium to Amazon stock price all in support of creating a new monopoly that will ultimately stiffel competition and cost the consumer in the long run.

  7. This is very interesting to me how companies are now using the ‘Trojan Horse’ approach to fleece more money out of their customers with technology and gadgets.

    Google of course started this trend with Android phones, which are a mobile personal data mining device for Google.

    And now Amazon, launching a phone that is basically linked to their online shops. I enables you to identify hundreds of products and of course you can buy those from their store.

    I generally don’t agree with this tactic, its deception at a clever level and of course people will suck it up because in their naivety they think its a smart phone.

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